The Tuscan Burger

My last meal? A hamburger of course.

With this Tuscan Burger, read down the ingredients and you can almost taste the pesto with the chargrilled beef and melted bocconcini, the mayonaise and the chargrilled buns.

Hopefully this isn’t your last meal and as my mother is known to say, the recipe shouldn’t kill anyone. But if it does, not a bad way to go.

As always, go for the best, freshest piece of chuck steak you can and get your butcher to mince it on the coarsest cut.


600g freshly ground chuck steak
100g pancetta, rind removed, chopped
1/3 cup (90g) basil pesto
2 small red onions, thickly sliced
2 tbs olive oil
2 small vine-ripened tomatoes, thickly sliced
1/2 cup (150g) whole-egg mayonnaise
3-4 bocconcini, sliced
4 Italian bread rolls, split
50g baby rocket leaves


  1. Place beef, pancetta and 2 tablespoons pesto in a processor. Season with salt and pepper. Pulse until just combined (do not overprocess). Form mixture into 4 patties and chill while you cook the vegetables.
  2. Preheat the oven to 160°C.
  3. Heat a chargrill pan or barbecue over medium heat. Toss onion in a little oil and grill for 1 minute each side or until just cooked. Place in the oven to keep warm.
  4. Brush tomatoes with a little oil and season, then grill for 1 minute each side. Place in the oven to keep warm.
  5. Brush both sides of patties with oil. Cook on chargrill for 2-3 minutes each side until cooked through. Chargrill the bread rolls.
  6. Mix remaining pesto with mayonnaise.
  7. Top patties with cheese and place in oven for 1 minute or until cheese melts.
  8. Spread bread-roll bases with some of the mayonnaise mixture. Top with rocket, patties, onion and tomato. Drizzle with remaining mayonnaise mixture and top with remaining bread-roll halves

Coriander pesto

Serves: Plenty as a dip

Not much to say here except that rather than using this for a pasta, as a dip with crackers or bread, it is so moorish, it will be the first thing to disappear. And I can vouch that it is particularly kid friendly.

Start here for your next party,.


2 c coriander leaves
½ c pine nuts, toasted
½ c grated Parmesan
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp lemon juice
¼ c extra virgin olive oil 


  1. In a food processor, process together the coriander, pine nuts, Parmesan, garlic and lemon juice and with the machine running, add the olive oil.

Spaghetti with prawns, basil and pistachios

With a glass of cold white wine and some bread and salad, you've set up Saturday afternoon as a win.
With a glass of cold white wine and some bread and salad, you’ve set up Saturday afternoon as a win.

Serves 4

Another simple and successful Neil Perry dish.

And yes, it is essentially pesto through no, it tastes nothing like the stuff in the jar. It is much lighter and fresher and really clean. A great Saturday lunch with a big glass of white.


1 clove garlic
½ tsp salt
¼ bunch basil leaves
¼ bunch parsley leaves
¼ bunch mint leaves
½ c toasted unsalted pistachios
1 tbsp finely grated parmesan
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
Freshly ground pepper
400g dried spaghetti
1kg green king prawns, peeled with tails intact


  1. Using a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic and salt. Add the herbs and continue to pound until a thick paste is formed and the herbs broken down.
  2. Add half the pistachios and continue to pound until the paste is a creamy consistency.
  3. Chop the remaining pistachios and stir through the paste, also adding the parmesan, 2 tbsp oil and lemon juice. Season with more salt as necessary, and a pinch of pepper.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti until al dente and set aside keeping warm.
  5. In a large pan, heat 1 tbsp of oil over a high heat and pan fry the prawns quickly; around two minutes. Sprinkle with a little salt.

Mix the pesto with the pasta, stir in the prawns and serve.